- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 2nd edition (1 April 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060545690
- ISBN-13: 978-0060545697
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition Paperback – 1 Apr 2006
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"A superb tutorial for anyone wanting to learn from pros how to polish fiction writing with panache.""--Library Journal"
From the Back Cover
Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories. Renni Browne and Dave King are two of the country's best-known independent editors. In their years as president and senior editor of The Editorial Department, they have edited the work of many writers - including bestselling authors - before the manuscripts went out to agents or publishers. Over half the manuscripts worked on to completion eventually got published, and over half that number were first novels. In this book Browne and King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own manuscript, in order to bring your manuscript to its fullest potential. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, interior monologue and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert fiction editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited. Every chapter contains hands-on exercises to help you apply these techniques to your own work. And illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist George Booth keep everything in perspective.See all Product description
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The authors are not trying to make you a better writer, they are trying to make you a saleable writer in today's climate. Many of the great works of the past would not have made it through the modern editorial process (they give many examples of this). Quite possibly, in the future, the rules may change again. But, for now, Browne and King teach you the process of getting your novel into a shape that an agent or a publisher's reader will want to look at twice.
This isn't just (or even mainly) about getting rid of adverbs and 'showing not telling', which you can find on any 'advice for authors' website. Browne and King give a balanced picture of all the areas that might trouble your prospective publisher. The chapter on Proportion is especially important, particularly since the subject is often overlooked.
Actually editing your book using the checklists presented here will be a fairly painful process for most writers. Browne and King do their best to get us over that with frequent examples from their own practise, as well as exercises where you can get your teeth into someone else's work before starting on your own.
You may disagree with some, or all, of the things they advise. However, this is not a book about becoming a great writer or producing great fiction, but about overcoming the common issues which generate the all-too-familiar "we're sorry, but we couldn't see this fitting with one of our lists" letters.
Strongly recommended if you really want to be published.
A couple of minor criticisms. The book is written - perhaps to some degree unconsciously - for North American readers and possibly even a particular class of reader. That's not to accuse the book of snobbery, or even exclusiveness, but there's a lingering sense that something is missing.
The well-hammered points about the changing tastes in literary styles are not to be ignored, but don't necessarily apply equally all places, all traditions nor all genres. Examples abound of writers who have done the opposite of what the authors recommend, and pulled it off.
As for the cartoons, they are desperately poor - poky drawings accompanied by captions that resemble the lost wanderings of a dwarf species of spider - a kind of visual example of prose that is so bad you don't even attempt to read what it has to say. Oops.
Each chapter uses a similar format and is equally as good. Chapters cover, dialogue, interior monologue, using beats, and point of view, amongst others. I would say it covers all those areas which many writers find difficult.
The one thing I did find slightly jarring was the cartoons. I do not feel they added anything of value and the writing which accompanies them is difficult to read. The book is excellent without them.
Whilst more experienced writers may find they know much of the advice given in this book already, those newer to the craft will find it to be useful. I would suggest it is read before starting the first novel. Once the first draft is written then it should come into play to help shape and develop the novel. Overall, an excellent book which I can highly recommend
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